The Corner Brook Cave System is a little known geologic feature of Newfoundland's west coast but it is defiantly one of the areas "hidden gems". Carved over the millennia by the steady run of Corner Brook Stream, these limestone caves offer over a kilometer of underground chutes and passageways to explore. This is a fantastic location and I've had the opportunity to do parts of the cave system in both summer and winter. Although visiting in the summer is much safer, I prefer winter because of the ice stalactites and stalagmites that form on the roof and the floor of the cave. Whenever you visit this is one of the coolest things to do in Newfoundland's western region.
The system has at least three entrances that I know of. One is very easy to find as it is located just off the road a few hundred meters from the parking lot. The "wet entrance" as it is known is where Corner Brook Stream naturally diverts into the cave system for its brief underground run. The other two entrances are located along a small unmarked path into the forest. You can find it by following the pipeline to the right and looking for the trail to the woods on the right. The trail is fairly short but there are a couple of tricky sections, including one place at the end that requires the aid of a rope to get down. The first entrance is located at the bottom of a small cliff face and is little more than a downhill squeeze that meets up with the upper tunnel from the second entrance. This second, larger entrance is just another minute down the trail. It is big enough to stand tall in some places and with a slight hunch in others but it requires some fancy footwork to navigate the rocks around the deep pools of water that make up most of the outer section. In winter it can actually be easier to navigate this section because the pools are frozen but it requires extra caution because it gets very slippery.
The cave goes straight in for quite a ways until it meets up with the small entrance at a place where the roof of the cave rises upwards like a cathedral. In the winter there are some awesome ice formations here that are worth a minute to stop and take a photo or two. From here the tunnel takes a sharp turn to the left, moving deeper into the rock until it ends abruptly at an underground waterfall that flows down into the giant main cavern part of the cave. There is a rope set into the rock here that allows you to rappel the three meters down and explore the cavern below. A friend asked me here once who put the rope in and we just kind of shrugged and said that it had always been there so we assumed it was safe. It was a funny bit for sure, but in reality there are a couple of tour operators offering tours here that regularly check the safety of the rope.
There are several off-shoots and tunnels branching out from the main cavern but being without a guide i haven't explored them all. I don't exactly like tight places either so I've turned down a couple of crawling routes that might be enjoyable from those out there with a little more nerve. When water levels are favourable you can simply wade out through the cool water to the opening of the wet entrance and end up just a few feet from your car, but water levels in the caves can fluctuate greatly due to the presence of a dam not far upstream. Your best bet is hiring a guide for your first time to the caves and learning from their experience for future spelunking adventures. They will know the flood schedule for the dam and provide you with the safest possible adventure. My Newfoundland Adventures and Cycle Solutions in Corner Brook both offer guided tours to the caves.
From Confederation Drive in Corner Brook, head west for a km or two until you pass the exit for the TCH. Just ahead on your right hand side you will see a gravel road that is closed by a gate. Park at the gate and follow the road until you come to the river. The wet exit of the cave will be on the right hand side of the bridge.
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